Have you ever watched someone do something foolish? The first thing they do is to look around to see if anyone saw them in their moment of embarrassment. All of us have done it at one time or another. If you happen to be a deer hunter these moments seem to come a little more frequently when compared to “normal people.” If you don’t believe it, just ask a hunter to recount a normal hunting season. You will hear stories of hours of sitting perfectly still in the woods seeing nothing. Then, at his first movement he learns that the deer was right behind him the entire time. All the hunter sees is the white of the tail as the deer runs off. Yes, the next movement is when the hunter looks around to see if anyone noticed his mistake. Hunters have a hundred excuses for not bringing home the game. I should know, I’ve used them all! My favorite is telling how that tree branch jumped right out in front of my bullet as I fired. I have used it a few times and will swear that I come across more suicidal trees than anyone could imagine.
If you think I am just reciting wild tales, you’re wrong. I won’t bore you with any more of my encounters, but I will offer proof that the woods are truly full of trees trying to deter hunters. When a major outdoor company such as Gerber Legendary Blades, a division of Fiskars Brands, starts to produce a tool for this exact problem, you know there is more to it than an urban legend. Gerber has recently marketed the Shot Maker Pruner, a saw/pruner combination, design to fend off the hordes of feral limbs stalking us in the wild.
The Shot Maker is a telescoping pole with two interchangeable heads. You can use Gerber’s wood saw on heavy limbs or switch over to a pruning ratchet head for the smaller brush. The tool has an overall length of only 25 ½ inches when collapsed and can be carried to the woods in most daypacks. When you need to battle those rabid limbs, screw on the saw blade or ratchet pruner and extend the Shot Maker’s pole shaft to a full 76 inches.
The saw head has a stainless blade bolted in place and there should be little worry about it becoming loose. The tip of this blade also has a hook cutter that can be used to snap cut smaller branches. Yes, the saw blade is manually operated so that means total “man power” but it’s 42 ounces is a lot easier to carry than a chain saw. It is the pruner head that I believe would be the most useful. After all, more often it is those small branches that jump in front of my bullets. The saw simple unscrews and the pruner head replaces it. The blades of the pruner are spring loaded and remain open until the you pull the operating cord to close the blades. The cord is long enough to reach to the end of the pole and has a grasping handle to ease use. At the head, the cord runs through a double pulley system before entering a chain operated gear box. The system increases the forces applied by pulling the cord and to lessens the amount of effort needed to cut. That’s right, math and physics have entered the world of deer hunting. I wouldn’t worry about going back to high school just because you slept through those classes. The system works and isn’t that all we really care about? The whole set came in a nice nylon case and really looked good sitting in the studio. However, it really doesn’t do that much for your hunting just sitting there posing for photographs. Besides, I had to get it to the woods before my wife discovered it could be used around the house for yard work.
I enjoy testing new toys but this one had an extra bonus to it. My labors spent testing the Gerber would also improve my deer hunting locations. In use, the saw was tested on limbs up to 4 inches in diameter and proved to be rather good in it’s cutting ability. The saw blade will cut with both the forward and reverse strokes. After a bit of practice I learned that the trick is to let the saw cut instead of trying to force it into the wood. The teeth are aggressive and need little pressure to achieve a good clean cut. One to three inch limbs fell rather quickly and I noticed little binding in the saw. Remember one little detail if you are cutting large limbs overhead; they have to fall somewhere. Just make sure you are not directly under them when they do fall. It also helps to have safety glasses on during use. Saw dust will always find it’s way into unprotected eyes. If you pick the right location for your deer stand most of the material you will need to trim will be rather small in diameter. This can be quickly handled with the use of the pruner head. Unscrew the saw blade, screw on the pruner, extend the pull cord and you’re set to go. When used on the right sized branches, the pruner will mow through any obstructions that may deflect your bullets. Just don’t get carried away or you will clear all of the cover around your stand. Then that buck will walk out and look right at that foolish hunter sitting in the tree stand. The pruner head worked so well that I was able to clear the brush at several stand locations in one afternoon.
No item is perfect and I did find one problem with the Shot Maker. When it arrived in the studio, one of the latches used to extend the pole was jammed. This problem could have been a result of shipping damage. I was able to drive out the retaining pin and reset the latch which totally corrected the problem. Gerber has always been known for their great customer service so if you encounter a problem you can’t handle, they will. There are two other problems with the Shot Maker. First, if seen by your wife, this tool could lead to yard work and take up time that could be better spent in the woods. Second, what excuse are you going to use the next time you miss that deer?
Overall the Shot Maker may not be your most exciting tool in your deer hunting kit. You will use it and then set it aside until you need it again. It may be six months, or it may be a year or two, but at some point, you will wonder how you managed to get along without the Gerber Shot Maker all along.
14200 SW 72nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97224